What is it?
This is Mazda’s handsome family hatchback, the 3, updated for 2021. But for the addition of a standard-fit sunroof on higher trim-level versions, that update is concerned mainly with what’s under the bonnet.
The car offers a choice of two petrol engines, both with a pretty simple 24V, belt-driven, mild-hybrid assistance system. The cheaper, lower-level conventional 2.0-litre e-Skyactiv-G unit now features cylinder shutdown, while the upper-level e-Skyactiv-X unit has had even wider technical revisions, with both modification programmes aimed chiefly at boosting fuel efficiency.
Running Mazda’s innovative switchable Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition system (SPCCI), the more powerful 2.0-litre option was only introduced with the current 3 hatchback in 2019. New pistons and a new intake camshaft, along with recalibrated combustion control and hybrid system control software, have reduced the engine’s compression ratio slightly, but improved both power and torque output, as well as reducing lab-test CO2 by between 5g/km and 11g/km depending on model.
The 3’s model hierarchy remains made up of five derivative tiers, starting with SE-L and ending up with GT Sport Tech. A six-speed automatic gearbox can be had as an alternative to the standard-fit six-speed manual on all but entry-level versions. Also, if you want a four-door saloon body (with a shinier radiator grille) instead of an upper-level e-Skyactiv-X hatchback, you can have one here - and for no extra cost.
For reasons best known to Mazda and uncommunicated to the rest of us, the range-topping all-wheel-drive version of the car that appeared as part of the 2019 offering has now been removed from the showroom range. We tested an upper-middle-trim, higher-output petrol hatchback.